Arts delivers sought after skills

17 December 2014

As the nature of the workplace changed in the last decade, so has the skill set demanded by employers.

“Skills that commanded a premium yesterday are no longer so valuable today. Organisations now need people who can operate in multiple dimensions, who have the ability to analyse information, prioritise and communicate with stakeholders. These sophisticated ‘soft skills’ are among the hardest to measure but ultimately can deliver the greatest value,” states the 2012 Hudson Report.

We are seeing employers becoming more aware of the value in creating an employee base that has a good mix of both technically educated employees and broadly educated employees.

An interesting example of this is where one of the largest producers of semiconductors in the world employs an anthropologist as their Director of User Experience Research. Overseeing a team of social scientists and designers who travel the world, observing how people use technology in their lives, the team’s findings help inform the company’s product development process. The ability to interpret the market and identify the emerging signals and what is going to matter to the end user takes a special skill set recognised in the field of anthropology.

The Arts advantage

Amongst the many benefits of studying an Arts degree such as expanding your knowledge base across several subjects, a key benefit is developing skills sought by employers such as learning to effectively write and communicate, teamwork, problem-solving, critical thinking and independent judgement.

Graduate Careers Australia in their 2013 Graduate Outlook Report ranked the most important selection criteria across several industries when recruiting graduates. The results in the table below show that 2 out of the top 3 selection criteria are developed when studying Arts: interpersonal and communication skills (written and oral); and critical reasoning and analytical skills/problem solving/lateral thinking/technical skills.

Most important selection criteria when recruiting graduates, by industry 2013 (Rank)

Source: Graduate Careers Australia GOS, 2013 Graduate Outlook Report

Selection criteria G/D/H* C/M/E* A/F* PS/L* Man* C/U/T* All
Interpersonal and communication skills (written and oral) 1 1 1 1 2 1 1
Passion/Knowledge of industry/Drive/Commitment/Attitude 2 2 3 2 2 1 2
Critical reasoning and analytical skills/Problem solving/Lateral thinking/Technical skills 3 4 2 4 1 3 3
Calibre of academic results 5 5 5 3 7 4 4
Work experience 5 3 7 6 5 6 5
Cultural alignment/Values fit 8 5 4 5 3 7 6
Emotional intelligence (incl self-awareness, strength of character, confidence, motivation) 4 8 5 4 4 8 7
Teamwork skills 5 5 8 8 3 5 8
Activities (incl intra and extra curricular) 10 9 9 8 8 8 9
Leadership skills 9 10 10 10 5 10 10
*G/D/H = Government/Health/Defence; C/M/E = Construction/Mining/Engineering; A/F = Accounting/Finance;
PS/L = Professional Services/Legal; Man = Manufacturing; C/U/T = Communication/Utilities/Technology

Throughout their university education, Arts students develop many skills sought after by employers including:

  • Ability to perform research: The ability to find information and analyse and assess its quality is seen as an asset.
  • Interpersonal skills: The ability to collaborate and communicate effectively within a team is highly valued and something Arts students learn as a part of their studies.
  • Creativity: Being able to think outside the box and see the big picture and apply this to the problem-solving process can set an Arts graduate apart from graduates in other fields.
  • Critical thinking and analysis: Being able to think objectively by looking at things from different angles and to question what has been presented as fact to ensure true conclusions are formed, is a greatly valued skill.
  • Effective communication: An Arts degree supports a student in becoming a skilful writer and presenter, and this ability is valued across most careers.

With this mix of skills, the Arts graduate can support their employer in responding to today’s global, social, cultural and economic challenges along with their specialist knowledge of the people, societies and cultures that underline these challenges.

Interested to study Bachelor of Arts? Learn more about exciting degrees from our courses website.

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Filed under: Faculty of Arts Humanities Social sciences